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Lord Bob Kerslake, former Civil Service chief, dies from cancer aged 68

Lord Bob Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, has died from cancer aged 68, his family said in a statement.

Ros Kerslake, the former Civil Service chief’s sister, wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “My brother Bob (Lord Robert Kerslake) died yesterday after a short battle with cancer. We are all devastated.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer led tributes to the crossbench peer, saying he was “very sorry to learn that Bob Kerslake has died”.

“Bob was a talented public servant, utmost professional, and a good man. He was rightly respected across Westminster for his experience and wisdom, and I’m grateful for his recent contributions to the Labour Party. Sincere condolences to his family,” he wrote on Twitter.

London mayor Sadiq Khan also payed homage to the former head of the Civil Service. He wrote on Twitter: “Lord Bob Kerslake was a true public servant. His kindness and commitment to improving our city and country will always be remembered.”

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said it “so was very sad to learn of the passing of Bob Kerslake,” adding: “A devoted public servant, he was a good, kind and principled man, generous with his time and full of wisdom. My thoughts are with his family, friends and all who knew him.”

Ros Kerslake thanked those offering tributes on Sunday, saying she would “pass them on to his wife Anne and their children. I know he will be much missed by everyone but most of all by his family”.

Lord Kerslake led the Civil Service from January 2012 to September 2014, before being appointed as a crossbench life peer in the House of Lords in March 2015.

Born in Bath, Somerset, he graduated with a mathematics degree from Warwick University and worked in a number of roles in local government before becoming chief executive of the London Borough of Hounslow. He was knighted in the 2005 New Year honours list for services to local government.

Lord Kerslake was also Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government between 2010 and 2015, and served as chair of King’s College hospital NHS foundation trust before resigning in 2017 in protest at Government underfunding of hospitals.

In July 2017, he was appointed as the chair of the independent investigation of the Manchester Arena bombing. The results of the investigation, commonly referred to as the Kerslake Report, were published in March 2018.

A frequent columnist for i, Lord Kerslake recently spoke out in defence of the Civil Service following attacks by former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, who blamed “activist civil servants” for his downfall in the wake of a report that upheld bullying allegations against him.

Lord Kerslake also defended the Civil Service following criticism by Boris Johnson’s allies over Sue Gray’s move to Labour.

Ms Gray, who led the investigation into Partygate last year, took MPs by surprise with her plan to quit the Civil Service and work for Labour. The announcement sparked a furious backlash from Mr Johnson and his allies, who claimed it made Ms Gray’s excoriating Partygate probe look “like a left-wing stitch-up”.

Lord Kerslake dismissed the claims as “patently absurd” allegations by “conspiracy theorists”.

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